I LOVE food! I am a real worldly foodie and am a true believer that tasting the food of country I am visiting is key to immersing myself in the adventure. The culture that comes from food, the history that food possesses. It may seem like I am reading into it but I am not, I know that food and eating habits change historically and it is one certain way to explore the culture.
Now, this was a particularly tricky one for me. Norway is one of the only countries in the world who is still legally allowed to hunt whales. Whaling has been largely banned because of the decreasing number of whales on our oceans, this beautiful creature that is becoming extinct has to stop being sought after for its meat and oil. So bearing these things in mind and the fact that I give to the WWF every month to help protect and rehabilitate a lot of animals, this goes against all my gut instincts to eat whale steak.
How can I, a self admitted lover of animals (except spiders and scorpions, who likes those?!) actually eat a whale? It was a moment of travel exception. I am a true believer that if you are abroad you should fully integrate into the life and culture of that country. We were in the middle of a fish market and whales everywhere, we could not miss out on this opportunity.
Looking back on it now, I feel slightly itchy inside every time I think that I chewed a whale steak and devoured it. I don’t think it will ever happen again. Regardless, it was a fascinating experience and if you ever get the opportunity… try it without any guilt.
So the national past time in Norway has to be hiking.
My partner and I donned our really unfashionable but sturdy hiking boots to trek the Ulriken, a stunning mountain that you can see from the centre of Bergen. The peak is about 645 metres up and the hike takes on various curves that make you fall in love with the shapely mountain.
The trek we took crosses over with some cycle paths, so be sure not to get slammed on by a mountain bike, and it took us around 2 to 2 and a half hours to hike up, with lots of stops for photos, snacks and water breaks. I would also say that the path at times is not very clear, you are pretty much winging your way up the mountain through difficult and ever changing terrain, but it is stunning and totally worth it. It is also the best work out in the world.
Overall, the trek is meant to take around an hour to an hour and a half for those with more experience, know the path and haven’t carried a crappy back pack. I can tell you now, the correct back pack with lumber support is key! Lesson learned. None of this fashionable pretty looking business for any type of trek in the future. Make sure you always take a rain coat of sorts because Norway is temperamental and renowned for having the most consecutive days of rain… 295 in 2015.
This was a fantastic way to break my hiking boots in preparation for the treks in South America. I think it would have been great if the trek was better signed but it was still do-able as you can see the end line throughout the trek. You walk through some really great locations, it is so refreshing and helps clear your mind. You won’t get to see many people on your hike either, but the few you do will be like mountain goats. This is no joke. The national past time must be hiking, they fly up and down the mountain as if they have no fear of falling off the face of the rock. We saw children hiking too! It was amazing, such a healthy way of living and it made me want to do it so much more. Inspiring really.
Once you get to the top enjoy the mesmerising views and make sure you give yourself a well earned sit down, a hot drink and some food. It was just breath taking. After all the sweat, slipping on a few rocks and the heavens opening up and drenching us head to toe, we reached the summit and it was so worth the work. It was the most beautiful experience, and I wish we had had more time to trek other mountains but sadly we did not. I cannot wait for our next Norwegian adventure and to hike some well known paths in Stavanger next time. For now, enjoy some photos of our trek up the Ulriken.
Happy reading, writing and travelling!
View from the top
Most people prepare for the incoming Winter with a good minimum of 2 week holiday in some summery destination, soaking up the sunshine and feeling the rays tickle their skin. Not this year. This year was all about the mountains, the hiking and the rain.
For the last five years Norway has been at the top of my bucket list of destinations. I met some phenomenal people from there and had been eager to visit them soon. Luckily, one of my closest friends was getting married there and my partner and I decided to make a holiday of it. We packed our best adventure outfits and our fancy clothes too and off we went.
Norway is a stunning country, with the water paving the picturesque scenery shaped by the fjords and the mountain ranges dropping drastically to the deep blue seas. It is a photo opportunity waiting to be taken every 2 metres you walk. I think we took hundreds of photos of the same mountain, of the same view, getting better each time. Some of the food is amazing, the cakes made me extremely happy, the people were kind and the culture was just incredible. I have to say, it is probably THE MOST expensive place I have ever visited, so either save a lot of money or be prepared to have some really weird meals at a 7/11.
I got to visit the cities of Bergen and Stavanger, both coastal but very different and I cannot wait to share all my experiences with you. Overall, as a far as a summer holiday goes, I loved it! It was adventurous, fun and really different to my usual summer destination so I truly enjoyed it. It was not the first time I have had a cold vacation in the summer and it will certainly not be the last.
So pack your bags and save for months… you have to visit Norway!